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Krepp-à-porter is a dress responsive to the volatility of markets. The work is based on the hemline index, the old truism that skirt length varies with the stock markets, and is inspired by the worldwide economic meltdown (Kreppa in Icelandic) as well as the eco-design boom.

Working in the tradition of transcending figures like Hussein Chalayan we explore how technology can change peoples relationship to clothes. If the clothes are self-adapting, how does that change the way we feel about them? In the intersection between several disciplines such as art/design, fashion/technology and research/innovation lies the work of Anders Mellbratt and Nils Wiberg. This time all of them coincide in the groundbreaking project Krepp-à-porter; a dress that automatically adapts its length according to the stock exchange. Fashion is changing at an ever-increasing rate – so is the economy – sometimes in a way that has massive repercussions such as the recent global financial collapse. Do people really have time to worry about fashion in such situations? Or is it perhaps even more interesting in volatile times?

There are very few truths within fashion but one of them is claimed to be the so-called “Hemline Index”; the proposition that skirt lengths adapt after the stock market. When the economy is good, skirts are shorter, and in economic downturns the skirt lengths go down too. Pioneered in the 1929′s by George Taylor who observed that skirt lengths not only followed the stock market but even predict it. Two weeks before the stock market plummeted on the collapse of 1929 the Paris runwayas premiered dresses that went all the way to the ground. This predictive quality is the basis for this dress showed at IASDR2009 in Seoul, South Korea.

Photos by Ju Hang, model is Sylvia Benavidez

I developed the concept together with Nils Wiberg, co-designed the dress with fashion designer Sally Ståhl, designed and made the custom circuit using Arduino and Fritzing and built all electronics, as well as co-authored the peer-reviewed paper for the IASDR conference.